Dr. Choolwe Jacobs

Dr. Choolwe Jacobs, Lead, Zambia Chapter, Women in Global Health

Dr. Choolwe Jacobs

Lead, Zambia Chapter, Women in Global Health

Choolwe Nkwemu Jacobs, is a Global Health Specialist and Epidemiologist with over 10 years extensive experience in public health. She is Co-founder/Country lead for Women in Global Health Zambia Chapter and Head of Department for Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at University of Zambia. She uses a gender and health equity lens in evaluating health outcomes, utilisation and access to health services.  She has extensive experience working in global and public health in collaboration with government and different United Nations and other agencies on Gender, Sexual Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (SRMNCAH), HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases. She also extensively published on a wide range of health topics in peer reviewed journals and she is an academic editor in three journals (PLOS Global Public Health (Gender Section), Frontiers in Tropical Disease and the Zambia Health Press). She studied at the University of Zambia, University of Otago in New Zealand, University of Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University, in the USA.

All Sessions by Dr. Choolwe Jacobs

9:30 am - 11:00 am

Allyship in Action: Driving Women's Leadership Collectively

Led By: John Hopkins University.

An emerging body of evidence suggests that allies, particularly male allies, have a crucial role in dismantling systems that perpetuate disadvantage towards women leaders. A recent national study conducted by Promundo found that “most men want to be allies for gender equality, and many think they already are – but women aren’t convinced. It’s time for men to close this ‘allyship’ gap and move from intention to thoughtful action”. Women can also support each other through allyship, though men are more often in positions of power and privilege.

While allyship is increasingly promoted as a tool to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, there is limited guidance on what allyship looks like specifically for advancing women’s leadership globally, and how to foster it within our organizations. Most current advice on the topic is vague at best, and unhelpful or frustrating at worst. Harvard Business Review suggests “taking the temperature”, and “look for patterns” as ways to identify male allies; Deloitte suggests allies should “lead with courage and compassion”. This type of advice can leave allies wondering what they can really do to advance women’s leadership.

This workshop seeks to share and generate tangible and applicable approaches to fostering allyship for women’s leadership in global health. We will do this by exploring organizational entry points where allyship can impact women’s leadership and brainstorming strategies in small groups. Entry points for allyship will be defined as enabling/enhancing organizational factors for women’s leadership. Allyship can and should occur at multiple levels: interpersonal (e.g., mentorship, sponsorship), public (e.g., sponsoring women in public, calling out if a woman was interrupted in a meeting), and systemic (e.g., equal pay, equitable workplace policies).

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Women on the Frontlines: An Undervalued and Unprotected Workforce

Led by: WomenLift Health.

Women are the backbone of every successful health workforce and health initiative. They make up 70% of the global workforce and 90% of frontline healthcare workers (HCWs), yet they are overburdened, underpaid, unsupported and unprotected in the workplace. According to the Community Health Impact Coalition, 50% community frontline workers in LMICs, and 86% in Africa, are not salaried. Country policies and frameworks on the incentive-based or volunteer labor of frontline workers are compounded by donor-funded primary care programs that support delivering healthcare through unpaid labor as an acceptable mechanism to enable access to care and achieve universal healthcare coverage, thus perpetuating forms of structural violence. In most LMIC’s there is no legal/policy framework specifically designed to protect frontline health workers. The leadership and power structures frontline HCWs report to are still predominantly male. According to the #HealthToo report by Women in Global Health, which analyzed women’s stories from 40 countries, women face blatant harassment and assault in the workplace. Failing to value, promote, pay or protect frontline workers impacts retention and quality of service delivery and ultimately negatively impacts the health system.

This panel brings together Alumnae from the Leadership Journey and women working on the issues of the frontline women workforce. The session will outline the current state of women on the frontlines in low-resource countries, with particular emphasis on Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa’s community health workforce. We will discuss the critical need to build leadership among women while simultaneously working to shift gender-based social perceptions and power dynamics and address issues of pay and protection. Panelists will share specific country examples which have been undertaken to understand and address these inequities, discuss challenges, and opportunities for donors, advocacy groups, and ministries of health to support a shift to a more empowered, safe, and fairly paid frontline workforce.

Moderator: Ms. Lanice C. Williams, Independent Consultant; Chair, Women in Global Health Washington, DC Chapter

1. Samara Andrade - Vice President, Program Strategy and Partnerships, HCP CureBlindness/SightLife international
2. Dr. Sanjana Mohan, Director, Basic Healthcare Services
3. Dr. Choolwe Jacobs, Lead for Women in Global Health Zambia Chapter
4. Dr. Priya Nanda, Independent Consultant, Gender, SRHR, and Women’s Economic Empowerment

2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Mt. Meru

Women in Global Health: Defying Backlash and Cultivating Leadership for Gender-Responsive Health Systems

Led by: Women in Global Health.

Women in Global Health (WGH) was the first organization to campaign for gender equality in health leadership. Since launching its movement in 2015, its global advocacy is supported today by 57 country chapters across 51 countries. Collectively they have garnered considerable political awareness and momentum towards advancing gender equity in women’s leadership through gender transformative leadership.

UHC is expected to be a game changer for women’s health rights but the progress in many countries is threatened by a growing global backlash against the rights of women and girls and against wider gender equality Gender-responsive health policies and plans can address the gendered health inequities ensuring that they are tailored to the needs of a diverse population. However, this is possible only if there is an inclusive engagement and effective participation of women in policy and decision-making processes in the health sector as it allows for harnessing the diverse perspectives, expertise and lived experiences. Women’s work – paid and unpaid – forms the essential foundation for health, well-being, and delivery of health systems. Despite constituting 70% of the overall global healthcare workforce, women are vastly underrepresented i.e. only 25% in top leadership positions.

The panel moderated by Dr Shabnum Sarfraz, Deputy Executive Director WGH will bring together a dynamic group of women leaders from Nigeria, Kenya, India, Zimbabwe and US Country Chapters. They will together examine gendered health inequalities; explore the impact of escalating anti-rights backlash against women’s rights; navigate the role of women health workers amidst the evolving health landscape; outline why women’s leadership is critical to establishing gender-responsive health systems and towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC); identify the barriers and enablers to women’s advancement in the health sector and highlight the policy initiatives needed to promote gender equity in health leadership.

Moderator: Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz, Global Director, Gender and Health/ Deputy Executive Director, Women in Global Health

1. Ms. Lanice Williams, Independent Consultant, Chair, Women in Global Health Washington, DC Chapter
2. Dr. Choolwe Jacobs WGH Zambia
3. Sapna Kedia, WGH India
4. Ruth Ngechu, WGH Kenya
5. Prof Rhoda Wanyenze, WGH Uganda